A CHAMPION West Fife athlete is proving age is no barrier to sporting success after he picked up a hat-trick of national titles.

Billy Bunyan, who is 65, competed in the Scottish National Sprint Triathlon Championships, Scottish National Middle Distance Triathlon Championships and Scottish National Duathlon Championships this year and finished in top spot in each.

Competing in the male 65-69 years age category, Billy, of Hailes Place, Dunfermline, took the first of his three wins at the sprint competition, held at Dundee’s Monikie Country Park, where he completed a 750 metre swim, a 21km cycle and a 5km run in a time of one hour, 21 minutes and 48 seconds.

That was followed by the middle distance event, in Aberfeldy, comprising a 1.9km swim, a 90km cycle and a 21km run, which he completed in 5:54.27, and the duathlon, held in St Andrews, which saw Billy complete the race with a 20km cycle between runs of 5km and 2.5km in 1:25.18.

A shot at winning a fourth title, in the Scottish National Standard Distance Triathlon Championships, was denied when the event had to be cancelled due to the death of Her Majesty the Queen.

Despite that, Billy, who in 2018 represented Great Britain in the 60-64 age group sprint triathlon at the European Championships in Glasgow, said: “It was exceptional.

The biggest thing was I knew I was retiring this year, so I had set my sights fairly high to go for three Scottish championships, which was the sprint, the standard and the half ironman (middle distance).

“I got two out of them but the standard was cancelled due to the Queen’s cortege going through the course, which you can’t help. I then entered the duathlon and, thankfully, I won that as well. It’s a very good season.

“The sprint was also a world qualifier; if you won it, you were going to the worlds. There were people from all over England that had come up as well.

“I was very pleased to win in that as well, to qualify.”

When asked if his achievements this year had exceeded his expectations, Billy, who is aiming to complete at least one triathlon next year, admitted that it had “gone even better” than he thought, and he believes more rest between sessions, as well as training with pals Stevie Murphy, Mike Harvey – who has also won Scottish titles in the past – and Anthony Mitchell, have played their part in his success.

“When I was needing somebody to go out with, they were always there to help me,” he added.

“It’s a huge thing. A lot of sessions you do on your own but, when you’re doing the long mileage, or you’re swimming every day, which I did, it was good to get out with somebody.”